Turner's grand slam lifts US over Venezuela, into WBC semis
MIAMI (AP) — Trea Turner hit a go-ahead grand slam in the eighth inning that lifted the United States over Venezuela 9-7 Saturday night and into the World Baseball Classic semifinals.
The defending champion Team USA will face Cuba on Sunday night for a spot in the WBC championship.
Venezuela second baseman and Houston Astros star Jose Altuve left the game in the fifth with a right hand injury after he was hit by a pitch from Daniel Bard. The Astros said there would be an update on his status Sunday.
Trailing 7-5, the United States loaded the bases in the eighth on a walk, single and hit by pitch against losing pitcher Jose Quijada. Silvino Bracho relieved and then Turner, the ninth batter in the U.S. lineup, sent his 0-2 changeup 407 feet to deep left field for the third grand slam in Team USA history.
David Bednar, the fifth U.S. pitcher, got the win. Ryan Pressly got three outs for the save.
Luis Arraez, playing the ballpark that he'll soon call home with the Miami Marlins, hit two home runs for Venezuela.
The U.S. team boasts a roster of big names that many picked to repeat as WBC champions.
All nine batters in Team USA’s lineup are all-stars, including Los Angeles Dodgers right fielder Mookie Betts, Los Angeles Angels center fielder Mike Trout, St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Paul Goldschmidt and Cardinals third baseman Nolan Arenado.
The United States is in the top six in the tournament in batting average (.296), RBIs (34) and hits (48), and every U.S. starter had a hit Saturday night.
Venezuela took a 6-5 lead in a four-run fifth after Ronald Acuña Jr.’s sacrifice fly to deep center field.
Salvador Perez drove in the tying run with a line-drive double that sneaked just inside the left-field foul line.
Arraez hit a two-run drive to right field in the first, his first home run in his new home park, and added another in the seventh to give Venezuela a two-run lead. Arraez, the reigning AL batting champion, was traded to the WBC host Miami Marlins this offseason after four seasons in Minnesota.
Bard replaced starter U.S. starter Lance Lynn with a three-run lead in the fifth and loaded the bases with two walks, an infield hit and a hit by pitch that injured Altuve.
Bard was pulled after Gleyber Torres scored on a wild pitch to make it 5-3. Venezuela added its last three runs against Jason Adam, who managed to get out of the inning in 10 pitches.
Team USA hit five straight singles to start the game. Betts led off the first with an infield single, then the speedster raced from first to third on Trout’s single, forcing a throwing error by Acuña to score.
Kyle Tucker also hit a homer for the U.S.
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Alanis Thames, The Associated Press